Neurophysiological Correlates of Visual Statistical Learning in Adults and Children

Abstract

Implicit statistical learning refers to the acquisition of statistical patterns occurring under incidental learning conditions. Although statistical learning is central to the development of many cognitive domains, such as language, its developmental trajectory is largely unspecified. Furthermore, few studies have attempted to examine the underlying neural mechanisms supporting statistical learning, in adults or in children. In this study, we used a novel visual statistical learning paradigm that allowed us to investigate the neurophysiological correlates of learning in adults, older children (aged 9-12), and younger children (aged 6-9). The results depict a nuanced picture of the development of statistical learning, involving the use of two distinct neurocognitive processing mechanisms associated with the N2 and P300 components. In addition, the results suggest that the children’s brains acquired the statistical structure quicker than the adults, with learning-related ERP components emerging after comparably less exposure to the patterns.


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